Northern District History

Mrs. Henry Parke

Northern District History

In November 1919, Mrs. Henry Parker, President, Virginia Federation of Woman's Clubs (VFWC) called a meeting for the Board of Directors as an aid to our organizational progress. From this meeting three Districts were formed: Southwestern, with 26 federated clubs; Southeastern with 41 federated clubs and Northern with 15 federated clubs.

In 1924, VFWC increased to six Districts. Originally referred to as District 4, Northern held its first meeting in Winchester. Mrs. Joseph Crupper of the Falls Church Club presided over the meeting in which nine federated clubs representing 17 counties attended. Leaders were called Chairmen and served as Vice Presidents of VFWC until 1929 when they were made Presidents of Districts and Junior Directors of Districts were made Third Vice Presidents.

In 1930, a 7th District was formed. In 1952, the 8th District was formed, and names were chosen for them. District 1 became Southwestern; District 2 became Shenandoah; District 3 became Alice Kyle; District 4 became Northern; District 5 became Lee; District 6 became Tidewater; District 7 became Southside; and District 8 became Blue Ridge.

In 2000, the name VFWC was changed to VFWC of General Federation of Women’s Club (GFWC).  In 2002, the name was changed again to GFWC of Virginia, to be known as GFWC Virginia. 

The Northern District encompasses the 14 northernmost counties of the state, where there are currently 20 Woman’s clubs, 1 Junior club, and 1 Juniorette club with a paid membership of 700.

The District Shield, designed by Jane Woodruff Kearns of the WC of Culpeper, was adopted in  1970. It signified the six GFWC departments: Arts, a palette and brushes; Conservation, a hand holding  a dogwood blossom; Education, the lamp of knowledge; Home Life/Health, a spool of threadInternational Outreach, a world globe; Public Issues, a gavel. The "N" is for Northern District the arrow always pointing North. The Blue signifies loyalty and truth while the gold is for generosity. The
Latin inscription means "From Diversity, Strength." A banner with the Shield was made by the Junior Woman's Club of Manassas for use at District functions and in 2004, a professional banner was   designed. During the 1976-78 administration of Mrs. Dorothy Burton, a contest was held to writlyrics for a District Song. Mrs. Marcy Morris (WC of King George) won the contest with her lyrics  "You Gotta Have Pep" adapted to "Heart" from Damn Yankees.

Traditionally the District adopts a project each administration. Many times, the District has adopted the State Project and in 1972 led all districts in contributions and support of the Mental Health Foundation. Other projects supported include a District scholarship, a transport van for the National Kidney Foundation, "60 trees by 60 clubs for 60 years" in celebration of Northern District's 60th anniversary in 1984, purchase of a robotic D.A.R.E. Bear, focus on women's health issues including
"Life with Cancer;" raising funds to purchase livestock through Heifer International, restoring the garden at GFWC headquarters in 2005 (a project originally initiated in 1966) and during the 2008- 2010 administration supported the State Project to purchase an ambulance for the student EMT Unit  of Virginia Tech University with the highest contributions (over $18,000) of any district to that effort. Some of the projects between 2010 and 2019 have been Prevent Child Abuse, Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention, Project Smile, and Promote Awareness of Human Trafficking. The year 2020 brought changes and restrictions on all clubs, as it did to the Nation and the World due to COVID. Many clubs continued to meet by Zoom, an online video connection. They also were resourceful in supporting state and club projects during this time. The State project for 2020-2022 was “Hop on the Bus,” and was supported by all the clubs. It resulted in the purchase of a van for the Armed Services YMCA in Virginia Beach. The District project for 2020-2022 was Environmental Awareness, especially concern for bees and flowers. The 2022-2024 District project was “Care for Kids”. Huge donations of blankets and pajamas to fill backpacks and duffle bags for foster care children were made by all the clubs. 

Northern District Juniors continue their support of the ongoing State Junior Projects as well as  club projects with donations of medical, recreational, and administrative efforts to many organizations.

In 2008, the GFWC Dominion Sisterhood Juniorette Club was chartered in Haymarket. This was the first student-oriented organization for Northern District. Subsequently, the Juniorette Clubs were increased to two: the GFWC Dominion Juniorette Club and GFWC Woodbridge Juniorette Club. These clubs engage middle school and high school students in the true meaning of volunteer work and community involvement.

Earning state awards in all community service program areas and special programs is not uncommon for Northern District clubs. In addition, several clubs have received GFWC recognition for outstanding efforts in their communities. In 1982, the WC of Fredericksburg won the 2nd place national award for their CIP entry "Stroke Club" in which they helped area residents adjust to life after a stroke. At the 2001 convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Oakton WC received an award for their "Libraries 2000" contribution, recognizing this club's efforts in bringing a library to the Oakton community. In 2009,
the GFWC Dominion Woman's Club was awarded 1st place in the Special Projects category. Mrs. Lori Rocker, GFWC Virginia Third Vice President/Director of Junior Clubs was named Junior Director of the Year. The Junior Woman’s Club of Loudoun was recognized as a national winner by March of Dimes from 2012 – 2018. At the 2012 GFWC Convention, seven Virginia clubs received Club Awards, and six of these clubs were from the Northern District.

The Federation’s highest honor, the GFWC Jennie Award is the only national honor that recognizes individual members for their outstanding commitment to club, community and family. The GFWC Virginia 2023 recipient was Patricia Riedinger, Clifton Community Woman’s Club. As the state winner, Pat will advance to the Region competition.

The District hosted its first State Convention at the Sheraton Park Hotel (formerly known as the Wardman Park) in Washington, D. C. in 1941. Northern District at that time had no facility large enough to hold the convention. Since that time, the facilities in Northern have grown and the District now hosts the convention or conference every 4 years.

Prior to the formation of the numbered Districts, two club women from this area served as GFWC  Virginia President: Mrs. Helen Norris Cummings, 1915-1917, who was a member of the Cameron Woman's Club, Alexandria, and Mrs. Henry Lockwood, 1921-1923, of the Clarendon Woman's Club. Since then, five Northern District members have served the Virginia Federation as President: Mrs. J. York Welborn (Grace) 1960-62; Mrs. James B. Roberts (Phyllis) 1970-1972; and Mrs. John O. Gregory (Angela) 1976-1978; and Mrs. Joseph A. Wintz III (Leigh) 2000-2002: and Mrs. Robert Fisher (Dale) 2020-2022 Four District Junior Directors have served as Third Vice President/Director of Junior Clubs at the state level: Faye Warren 1972-74; Leigh Wintz 1982-84; Lori Rocker 2008-2010 and Katrina (Trina) Madison Behbahani 2018-2020.

Phyllis Roberts, Past President, Northern District, and Virginia Federation, served as the GFWC International President from 1986-1988. Mrs. Roberts is one of three ladies from Virginia to serve in this office in the 114 years of Federation history. The first to serve was Mrs. J. L. Blair Buck  (Dorothea), 1947-1950, and the most recent, Mrs. Leslie Hamlett (Shelby) 2000 - 2002.

Northern District continually strives to create ways to support club members and help new clubs to form and prosper. Our members continue to dedicate and volunteer their time and talents to promote  the civic and cultural welfare of their communities while sharing Federation fellowship.


                                                                                            Revised October 7, 2023